standing Brave, it’s what she does

Singing in the midst of life’s engulfing fires, fighting back the treacherous storms of her heart & dancing through the unforgiving pain of failing strength… there she stands. She is brave. Braver than most. Fierce as lions. It’s just what she does. Simply because that is who her Creator made her to be. A mighty warrior, a celebrated princess & a light in the darkness of fear.

Who do you know that matches this description? I have been blessed to have so many strong women in my life. Some are family, some are friends & others I have scarcely met for moments. All of them encourage & inspire me with their talent for finding their moment. That moment of grace where Father steps into your situation & just takes over your response to it. When you face that which is meant to destroy you, without giving in or falling back. The day you finally stand tall, despite the attacks & the traps of the enemy. Bravery. It’s not the absence of fear or even the presence of courage or strength. It comes from something truer, deeper. A place of forgiveness & grace. A place of knowing, of been there/done that. It comes out of surviving & choosing to thrive. This, this is the difference that sets apart the lucky ones that made it out somehow from the BRAVE ONES that chose to never give up or give in or give out.. ever again.

I’d be writing for hours if I sat her listing all the people (guys too) I know that are the picture of bravery tonight. Instead I will tell you about the three I am praying for as I go to bed. Please, if you pray to our Father in Heaven, mention these dear ones to Him. He will know them, so I will leave out their names.

  1. A dear sister who has stood BRAVE in the Valley Fire that continues to rage here in CA. Her family evacuated from the area only moments before their home was completely destroyed. They have only the clothes on their backs with them. Every “thing” they ever owned is gone… She & her husband pastor a church, which was also overcome by the flames. The cement steps & metal railing are all that remains… Yet she is working tirelessly to put aside her own needs, in order to tirelessly care for those around her who are also facing the pain of loss & starting over. So very brave. Because she has spent time with her Father, she walks confident in KNOWING who holds her tomorrows & who restores all “things” in His time. He gives her beauty for the ashes she surrenders to Him. Beyond what she could ever even ask or imagine. She just KNOWS. The confidence of knowing makes her brave when everything around her is in ashes. There is a peace that she knows, beyond all human understanding. The soft voice of the Spirit, telling her He is never letting go of her. Surely she must BRAVE the winds that throw the flames, as she hears only the voice of peace that guides her ‘home’. A place she knows not where. But she casts aside all doubt, in exchange for bravery born out of past experience. He will DO what He said He will do.
  2. A friend who IS my sister. (If you don’t have one, I’m praying you will soon!) This week she BRAVELY walks into new things, a new job, which brings a new lifestyle of sorts. It stretches her. It strengthens her. It launches her out of her comfort zone fast & furiously. Yet she embraces the challenge & confronts her old thinking in order to make room for newly improved approaches. She takes time to evaluate the why & where of questions like ‘How did I get here?’ & ‘Where should I be going next?’. Instead of running from the change & newly found accountability, she took on even more by telling me about it all. Knowing full well that I will also ask her ‘So how’s that going?’ in the days & weeks to come. All this while raising her children in the fear of the Lord, & serving her husband & her mother in every way. She exemplifies a life of prayer & trust. Brave is the one that walks WITH the Lord, following His lead even into the high waters where her feet cannot stand. She has an understanding that others have not reached. One that comes only from being carried through the storm(s) once (or twice) before. The fear of the unknown is not a stranger to her, nor is it a crippling distraction. Rather, it is simply a reminder to refocus on the One who leads the way, remembering that His way is straight & narrow, & there will always be grace enough to travel it. And she REMINDS HERSELF that she will never walk alone. She is BRAVE, because He is WITH her always. She is His & He is hers.
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  4. My daughter. From the moment we first saw her face we knew, this one is BRAVER than most. Tiny, frail & weak. Yet full of such power & fight. She will not back down or give up on herself or her love. She survives. At all cost. Her world has been capsized more times than I care to count. Her heart has learned to fight love to protect her, & now it’s learning to let love in… to heal her. What whirlwinds have tossed them about, She & her heart. Often they have been bruised & battered by the very ones they thought would treat their wounds. But her Creator has placed a love in her, deeply knitted into her soul, that no evil or pain could remove. Buried in the rubble of breaking trusts & stolen dreams, that love is emerging & reaching for the light. Every day she finds new strength. She is tiny, but so very fierce in wanting only to love & be loved. She has felt the Father’s touch. I see it in her eyes. I saw it before I met her & it shines brighter each day. Surviving is her gift, it birthed in her a BRAVE SPIRIT that will not quit. What horrors & sorrows she has felt, we may never know. But the love that spills out of her we recognize. The Author of her soul has written her new song. She sings for me sometimes, a song of forgiveness, a song of renewal. She sings to Him too, praises & anthems of His glory & goodness. She bravely lifts her head & walks on broken legs, into the safety of His presence. Each day we see her overcome new obstacles that once stood between us, she is not waiting for ‘someday’, she walks on. One foot after the other, with a band of brothers following close behind. Her steps are not always sure, but she will not sit still while there are stairs to climb. Up & out of the sadness, she climbs higher than she could ever dream. Far beyond what her strength allows, she swims to the depths of grief in order to bring it all to the surface. The Spirit that dwells in her deepest parts is guiding her to wholeness & healing through His mercy & grace. Not every broken part of her can be casted like her legs, but she is LEARNING that she WILL BE MADE WHOLE one day. From the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. Ten she will dance in the freedom that come from understanding how He brought her out of bondage & pain, & into the freedom of His love!

Think of the ones that inspire you friends. Tell them. Encourage them. Then go out & find that strength to face some things that are meant to destroy you. Walk in the knowledge of He who made you. Tell the mountains to move & the giants to fall. Be strong & courageous, in the face of your fears friends… BE BRAVE…

-JK

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psalm 68

ransom paid – Miracles for annabelle {5k+1}

Where do I start? How can I share the biggest moment in our adoption journey, the moment when God reached down & told us “GO GET YOUR DAUGHTER!”… that moment when He promised to personally supply the funds to pay her ransom???

It starts with a simple prayer. A little boy’s wish for a sister. A father’s heart searching for confirmation. A mother’s aching for her child, so far far away… We had already seen our AnnaBelle’s pictures, her file & her medical assessments. We’d checked with the Dr’s, therapists, parents & individuals who all had specialized experience with her specific needs. We knew she was the daughter God had promised us! She fit every desire of our hearts!

All we needed was $3,150 to start the process! Ha, that was definitely not a small amount to a family of 5 living on support in a mega city like Hong Kong! But it’s pennies when compared to the riches of our Father’s Kingdom! We prayed/fasted & asked God how He wanted us to go get our daughter & what should we do about all the fees involved… His answer was “I will pay her ransom. I will rescue my child. You will pick her up for me!” So by faith we signed the papers & continued to ask God to provide the funds for the total adoption, specifically that first payment due in one week’s time, on a Thursday.

During that week, God reminded us of all the financial bondage He has brought us out of. A past bankruptcy due to overuse of credit in college, bad credit of course & a recent (although slow) turn around of our mortgage in the US that’s still upside down… He told us that He did not call us to adopt only to put us into debt again. That instead, He had prepared all the funds in advance & would provide the total amount needed through His people whom He had already spoken to about our daughter! We began to stand on that word… knowing that He provided the funding for our HUGE move to HK & that His ways are most definitely higher than our own… We KNEW He would come through & we asked Him to do it in such a way that there would be NO DOUBT, to anyone that heard, of His having done it without any interference from us! Only THEN would we know that we know that we know – that He was triple confirming that adopting AnnaBelle was the right path AND that He would provide for her ransom without us going into ANY debt/loans, etc.

We sent out a request for prayer, some of you got that in your email. Emails & texts started to come in – “We are believing with you!”, “How can we help?”, “We can give $300 today!”, etc. We quickly set up an online giving option with our bank & praised God for the quick response from friends! Then, the next Tuesday (2 days before the deadline), a co-worker (who wishes to remain anonymous) asked Mark to come & speak with him in his office. We had not spoken to this man about the adoption. Only about 5 people in HK knew anything about it yet. But this man asked Mark about it, he had heard from a mutual friend that we were adopting “completely by faith”. He was moved by our faith. He wanted to help. So he asked how much was the immediate need & Mark told him. He asked for Mark to bring him some details about the whole process & he promised to help…

On Wednesday, I happened to have a pre-scheduled work related mtg with this same co-worker. When our meeting was over he asked me again for the amount needed by the deadline (the next day). I told him the total needed was $3,150USD. He asked if I wanted it to be sent to my account in Hong Kong Dollars or US & if he sent that amount by that night would it be in time?! I was completely FLOORED!!! I almost could not keep from crying, and then he began to tell me his story of WHY he felt so compelled to give to us, why he had to help rescue AnnaBelle!

It turns out that the very day we had prayed/fasted & signed the final papers (by faith) to begin the adoption, this co-worker was in a Community Leadership class teaching about how God speaks to us through dreams. That same night he had a dream where God was telling him to give & the whole dream was about him giving things away. He told me he ignored the dream at first. The next wk at that same Leadership class, the teacher asked who had had a dream from God. But he didn’t think his was from God. Again, that night after class he had the same dream. When he woke, he KNEW it was from God. He asked God what he was supposed to give & to who. He asked God to confirm it. That day when he arrived to work, in the staff mtg, the Senior Leader was teaching about ‘good stewardship’, specifically with our ‘excess’ that is just ‘laying around’… Later in the day he spoke to our mutual friend who explained our need. He said he KNEW then that he had to act right away in obedience to God! The same day, he told Mark to come talk to him!!! Talk about obeying the Lord’s prompting! This man told us both he was blown away by our faith, but we were not only blown away, but completely blessed beyond words by HIS obedience & faith to follow God so quickly! This man of faith is a hero to our family… a hero of the faith is always an encouragement! Isn’t it just like our Father to be just in time for the things that He plans to accomplish!?!

On Thursday, the first payment deadline, God had provided a total of $5,000US for AnnaBelle, in just one week’s time!! Almost $2,000 extra!! As of today, God has provided over half of AnnaBelle’s ransom! Including travel costs that were donated just one week later (about $10,000 for all of us to travel to/in China for 2wks)!! What a confirmation! Father answered our very specific prayers – He told a man in a DREAM to give to our family exactly what we needed, then He moved others to give as well! This was an absolutely amazing miracle of God’s provision – completely confirming for us that not only are we following HIS PATH TO ANNABELLE… but that HE PROMISES TO PAY HER RANSOM!!!

We give glory & honor to God for the things He has already done in our lives & in Annabelle’s life! We are sharing this story to give God a moment to shine His love into your lives, by sharing how He’s been blessing ours! We learn to trust Him day by day & He holds our hand when we fall… this journey is not a short one, but we will endure to the end because the joy of finally holding our AnnaBelle in our arms, getting her safe & healthy, teaching her about this Father that has loved her since before she was born — will be soooo worth it! Our God is faithful! He WILL provide, He WILL do what He said He would do!! One day, AnnaBelle will be a prisoner no more, because her ransom will be paid, there will be ONE LESS orphan on that day!

We are trusting Him to complete that which HE ALONE has started! (Reminds me of the trusting lessons learned before leaving America almost 2 years ago…) Please pray with us that the rest of the fees can be paid ON SCHEDULE in the coming months! Please continue to pray with us & FOR ANNABELLE as she waits in her blessed Christian foster center! We are so very grateful for all of your prayers in this faith journey! We are so excited to see how God will bring HIS little girl home to our family!

We are in need of another $20,320USD before we can go to China to bring AnnaBelle home! We have TWO IMMEDIATE DEADLINES that we need prayer & provision for. 

June 15: $5,000 = Homestudy fee & travel for the social worker.

July 15: $4,550 = Agency fees & Dossier processing.

If you or someone you know has a desire to help us bring AnnaBelle home – please let us know TODAY! 

psalm 68

Babies at AnnaBelle’s SWI (orphanage) in China.

-JK

Hong Kong Sunset

nothing & Everything {be transformed}

“Nothing. Everything. I don’t really know…” Maybe it’s hormones. Something deeper, a stirring in my spirit? Just another long day of homeschool, chores, getting back to school in my 30’s & cross-cultural living?? Or, maybe it’s just a case of not so fresh left-overs for lunch  causing this ‘mood’ I’m in… In any case, my answer didn’t really help Mark understand what was up with me tonight. I’m sure some of you can relate. – I started thinking about how so many people are dealing with worse things than my ‘list’ of things getting me down. The people we visit in the ‘cage-homes’. Everyone affected by Hurricane Sandy. The poor immigrant families of my English students… I’ve been praying for our team mate Jamie who needs a healing miracle!! I even prayed with my Aunt on the phone today as she plans my Uncle’s funeral service… Then all of those things just added to the already dark & sad state of mind I was in. What a mess, what to do?

I used to handle these kind of days very differently than I did today. Nights of hitting the town with friends, a case of beer & a pack of cigarettes come to mind. I have not always been the ‘clean cut’ girl that writes this blog. SHOCKER, a Christian that’s got a past! Ha ha, well guess what, we ALL have one! It’s just that I like to remind myself of mine now & then… because it allows me to share the amazing things God has done to change me & give me a future! – So what’s the one thing that gives me hope today, in the midst of the icky & helpless feelings – that I can’t even explain to my best & closest friend on earth?? The fact that I don’t HAVE to explain it to my best friend & Father in heaven!! He was ready to hear me, but when i had no words, only silent tears, he understood perfectly! When I don’t understand my own heart, He holds me with His promises. Promises to love me forever & ever without condition. Promises to accept & even celebrate who I am… even when I forget who that is. He reminds me who I am. He tells me how He treasures me & strengthens & protects me!

I found myself going back & forth all day. Listing the problems, listing the promises. Studying the Word & watching an amazing sunset – thankful for an ocean view to watch it by… Then back to everything around me causing irritation… Have you been there?? Well, I used ever last bit of self-control to get through dinner & send myself to my room, hoping not to take anything out on my sweet family! My solution? My new way of handling these moments? JESUS! I cried, I prayed, I opened my bible & let Him talk to me through His Word. The passage I read was not something that screamed an end all answer at me… but I waited for God to speak through His Spirit… He showed me how the verses were written to tell a bigger story, that He was there & solving problems 2,000 years ago & He’s still doing the same today. That I matter to Him, that my ‘little list’ is important & He’s already working on my problems, he cares about the little things too… Because I am HIS BELOVED, His precious child & He has MADE ME (& YOU) – beautifully & wonderfully & then He made me (& YOU) His Princess (& Prince), Heir to His throne of Grace in Heaven! (Psalm 139:14, Romans 8:17)

When I started this site, I promised to tell you all the good & the ugly… I’d say this is actually both… My heart still feels all mixed up. But as I write this I am noticeably less overwhelmed. The problem is never more than God can handle. He knows how you feel even when you don’t know yourself. He knows exactly who you are, even when you forget. And He’s already reminding you… just hold still & listen. Listen to the rain, to your tears, to His voice in the wind & in His Word. Jesus loves you & He wants to be the one you trust & lean on… My new way of coping is to run to Jesus. He is my hope. My refuge. I know He will bring me back to myself. He has transformed my mind & He continues to work with me every day. I am so grateful that He has everything under control already. I will trust Him to show me & guide me through each thing on my ‘list’. I will not worry about tomorrow. He holds my world in his hands & He will take care of tomorrow… I will trust Him because He loves me & He has never let me fall. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

~JK

a typhoon, a Challenge & a testimony

Typhoon Vicente – July 23, 2012

Howling winds & thundering skies tonight, it feels a bit like standing in a wind tunnel or even like an MRI tunnel… Experiencing a CAT-1 Typhoon (Vicente) on the 51st floor of a highrise can only be described as an altogether NEW experience. However, to quote a song I used to love,  ‘I’m no stranger to the rain’ – in fact I’ve learned to love it. What else can cleanse our world, our life, our souls from all that has tainted it? Without the storms, how would we treasure the calming peace that only God can bring? Our stormy seas teach us as much as we let them, if we share what we learn – we sharpen one another…

It’s been just over 7 months that we’ve been here in Hong Kong… I was just thinking of putting together some thoughts on how God’s been working in our lives lately… & then, last week I was challenged by a reader with a simple but profound question, along the same lines- & now I’d like to challenge all of you to answer it as well! After you read my answer – will you pray about it?? Put your answer in the comments of this post – if you blog, add it to your blog & include your link in your comment here! Let’s Sharpen Up together – that’s why God gave us the amazing gift of fellowship!

 

The Challenge:

“Tell me – if you were to put into 20 words your primary revelation about God from the last 2 years, what would you write??” -Fellow Blogger: Graeme in Australia – mybroom

 

The Answer:

“Through His power – I stand firm, command the storms and make peace. His promises ARE fulfilled – HE does the impossible.”

 

The Scripture:

“23 Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters,
24 They see the works of the Lord,
And His wonders in the deep.
25 For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
Which lifts up the waves of the sea.
26 They mount up to the heavens,
They go down again to the depths;
Their soul melts because of trouble.
27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And are at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He brings them out of their distresses.
29 He calms the storm,
So that its waves are still.
30 Then they are glad because they are quiet;
So He guides them to their desired haven.
31 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
32 Let them exalt Him also in the assembly of the people,
And praise Him in the company of the elders.”

-Psalm 107:23-32

 

I’m so glad I took a few days to pray this through. I went back to the beginning of this blog (October 2010). We weren’t yet half way through our fundraising for this big move. There was stress & health issues with our extended families. Our jobs were not in a good place. Our house was losing value (ok, so that one is still a problem). Our lives were turned upside down in a state of ‘unsettled’… The progress from then until today is really astounding. Many of these things were pieced together as we grew during the different storms. Our Father placed people & moments in the storm that helped us both physically & spiritually. What seemed to be delayed promises are all revealed & healed now. God has restored years & relationships that were stolen by the locusts… He has revived our family, even through our children’s prayers – & our finances. He raised all of our funds in HIS perfect timing & moved us to Hong Kong last December without a hitch! As if that weren’t enough, He’s even blessed us beyond measure with our new friendships & opportunities to serve our neighbors, while teaching us even more & showing us how to love like He loves – in creative new ways since we’ve arrived! What an amazing God we serve… What a loving Father we have! It’s my daily prayer to know Him more & serve Him well each day that I breathe… There are still more dreams in our hearts, still more storms brewing around us & yet… even more promises that God has made to us, we STAND on those & are secure in the knowledge that when we TRUST in the Creator, especially when the waiting is hardest, all creation will bow at His feet & His will is accomplished! So to this storm outside & to any within, we say – Be Still & Know that our Father is YAHWEH! We will not fear, instead, we will go into the field & gather the harvest – for it is ready & so are we!

We hope you are inspired by what God is teaching us, we hope you’ll ask the Holy Spirit to show you how He’s teaching you… Don’t forget to share your answers with us!!! You can even share this with your friends & see if they will answer too! We’re praying for you & we’re excited to see what God is doing in each of your lives!!!

“He who observes the wind and waits for all conditions to be favorable will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.” -Ecclesiastes 11:4

 

-JK